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Consumers Regularly Misled By Food Labels, European Report Finds

Food manufacturers are deceiving consumers through mislabelling their products as ‘traditional’ or ‘artisanal’, according to the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC).

The BEUC released a report yesterday (Thursday, 14 June) ‘Food Labels: tricks of the trade’, which highlights three practices that sugar-coat the actual quality of foods and drinks.

Industrial products being labelled as ‘traditional’ or ‘artisanal’, drinks and dairy with little or no actual fruit displaying fruit pictures and lastly bread, biscuits, pasta, etc. with barely any fibre labelled as ‘whole grain’.

Operating In Grey Areas

“It is striking that a ‘pineapple & coconut’ drink can be made up of less than one-third of these fruits. Or that breadcrumbs labelled ‘grand-mother style’ contain industrial ingredients. Still, these are the kinds of misleading labelling practices that consumer organisations have repeatedly found across Europe,” said Monique Goyens, Director General of BEUC.

“The EU law clearly states that food labelling and packaging should “not mislead the consumer”. However, manufacturers have been taking advantage of grey zones in the EU law to make their products look like they are better quality than they actually are. It is urgent that the EU institutions come up with a recipe to end those deceptive practices and that Member States make sure food makers comply with such rules.”

The BEUC said that, in order to prevent misleading consumers going forward, the EU should release definitions of the terms commonly used on labels to market quality aspects, such as ‘traditional’, ‘artisanal’ or ‘natural’.

It should also set minimum levels of whole grain content in order to make ‘whole grain’ claims. As well as this, it recommends minimum content rules for products which highlight on the front of the pack certain ingredients such as fruits, as well as the percentage of advertised ingredients like fruit displayed on the front of the pack.

© 2018 Checkout – your source for the latest Irish retail news. Article by Aidan O’Sullivan. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition. 

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